Warning: Thanksgiving spoilers ahead!
Thanksgiving stars Nell Verlaque says she couldn't figure out who the killer was until it was time to film those final scenes.
"When I first read it, it had a totally different ending. The script was so locked up, so many NDAs, and then they kept releasing scripts into filming that just cut off before the ending happened to keep it secret," Verlaque tells GamesRadar+. "And then eventually I learned who it was. I think the original ending was, oh, you don't know who it is."
The Eli Roth-directed slasher is laid out much like Scream, where it's up to the lead heroine to solve the mystery – which she solves at the same time as the audience. Verlaque's Jess Wright spends much of the film piecing together clues and suspects, all while being hunted down by a vengeful masked killer known as John Carver.
Continues Verlaque: "I don't know if they did that on purpose – because they just didn't want everyone who was auditioning for it to know what the actual ending was. I don't know if it was like a little fake-out. I remember reading the script, which was this crazy script, and then I got to the end and I was like, what is this ? You don't know what happens at the end! So I would assume, knowing Eli, that was planned out."
The film's final scenes see Jess run through the woods in true final girl fashion before suddenly realizing that the killer is none other than Sheriff Eric Newton (Patrick Dempsey), the man who had been helping Jess crack the case all along. As it turns out, Jess was unknowingly leading John Carver to his victims, with Jess initially set up to be his last kill. She's able to outsmart him, and cement her status as the slasher genre's newest final girl.
"It was crazy. We filmed all this in Toronto and it was freezing and snowing not according to plan. And those last scenes we filmed in this huge warehouse, obviously not a very warm place," Verlaque explains. "We were all freezing and all trying to get these last shots – it was just one of those great things. We had explosions and chases and all these massive things and everyone was freezing. I think it just sort of pushed everyone to get together and hunker down. And we did. So at the end everyone was like, okay, let's go home."
"When I first read [the script] I was like, 'Oh my God, I've always wanted to do a scene where I'm running in the woods," she continues. "The nerd in me was like, I've always wanted to do that. I was really excited. Again, it was raining not according to plan. I was just a T-shirt and jeans and I was running and I was like, 'Okay, well my life, my life is made now – I'm a final girl. ."
Star Rick Hoffman, who plays Jess's father Thomas, says he also couldn't figure out who the killer was, and that those final scenes proved to be a challenge.
"I couldn't figure it out! It was really laid out the way was in the movie. I thought Patrick Dempsey did a really fantastic job.It really great to watch when we were in that screening, [seeing] how well he played it. I think it's why the movie did so well, because he did just a very subtle performance and then also just a great reveal. His acting work was just fantastic in the movie," Hoffman says.
"The thing that was most challenging to me was that dinner scene. The [challenge is] always for me, when it requires vulnerability and any emotion. I get that pit in my stomach. It's daunting, it's like, oh no, when is that day coming? I get nervous because I know it's gonna take a lot of concentration and really hard work just to make sure it's as real as possible," Hoffman explains. "It was gratifying to work around the table with all the other actors. Everybody was so focused and just so professional. And Eli, just trusting him - he’s great with actors. If you’re on the right track, he'll guide you and make you feel like you’re in that way. You know, it's smoother than [with] other directors. It's a smooth experience with Eli."
Thanksgiving is out now on Blu-Ray and DVD. Thanksgiving 2 2025 release window. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies in 2024 and beyond.